Earth Quaker Action Team, EQAT (pronounced “equate”), is a grassroots, nonviolent action group including Quakers and people of diverse beliefs, who join with millions of people around the world fighting for a just and sustainable economy. Website: eqat.org.
Earth Quaker Action Team (EQAT) continues its nonviolent direct action campaign focusing on the role of Vanguard, a Philadelphia investment company, in a just and sustainable future. Joining global, national, and local partners in the Vanguard’s Very Big Problem campaign, EQAT is pushing Vanguard to use its influence as one of the biggest investors in fossil fuel companies to move them towards sustainability; offer sustainable investing options to its customers; and in the long run, divest from fossil fuel companies. While the campaign is global in scope, EQAT sees an opportunity to play a role in organizing Quakers around this issue. EQAT has heard from Quakers across the country who say that taking action together is very encouraging, and EQAT will offer many opportunities in the future, locally and beyond. Vanguard customers have a particular part to play in pressuring Vanguard, and EQAT offers a sign-up form on its website to help customers take collective action. Participation in the campaign is not limited to Vanguard customers. In April, EQAT is setting off on a walk to highlight the connection between pollution and climate injustice in the region and the money and investment that enable it. The walk begins in Chester, Pa., and ends in Malvern at Vanguard’s headquarters, with events and interfaith protests between.
Earth Quaker Action Team (EQAT)’s current campaign, Power Local Green Jobs, is focused on pushing the utility company PECO to make a significant shift toward solar, prioritizing job creation in Black and Brown communities, which have been most affected by the fossil fuel economy. Following a series of actions this summer, EQAT is celebrating some success as a result of efforts with allies and partners. For example, PECO is actively collaborating with solar stakeholders and is seeking proposals for local solar projects in ways not seen before the campaign.
EQAT was presented with an opportunity to join the “Vanguard’s Very Big Problem” campaign. Vanguard is the world’s biggest investor in coal and one of the two biggest investors in oil and gas. EQAT will be partnering globally with other activists to target flows of fossil fuel investment money. The aim is to push Vanguard, alongside a network of local to international partners, to invest its customers’ savings in sectors where business models do not jeopardize communities or our planet’s future.
Earth Quaker Action Team (EQAT) launched the Power Local Green Jobs campaign in September 2015 to push Pennsylvania’s largest utility, PECO, to make a significant shift toward solar, prioritizing job creation in Black and Brown communities, which have been most affected by the fossil fuel economy. Within months, PECO set up “Solar Stakeholder Collaborative” meetings that helped the company realize the level of interest in the region, as well as the grievances of solar contractors. Based on those meetings, PECO has eased the solar application process, upgraded the grid to be more solar-ready, and hired a team to work specifically on solar.
PECO also made a significant investment in the Philadelphia Energy Authority’s solar work and donated $100,000 to a North Philadelphia-based job training program, though only some of that money went to solar training. PECO announced recently that it’s seeking proposals for local solar projects. While EQAT is pleased with this movement, much more action is needed, especially given the urgency of climate change and environmental racism.
Earth Quaker Action Team (EQAT) continues to “nonviolently confront the people who benefit from the current energy system, boldly challenging them to turn away from fossil fuels.”
The current campaign urges the utility PECO in the Delaware Valley to catch up to neighboring states in its generation of solar beyond the current less than 0.5 percent. EQAT has shown up at the utility’s offices, at shareholder meetings—and now, even as the pandemic has shifted some of its ability for direct action, EQAT continues to find ways to demonstrate concerns and push for a just future and local solar.
Five years ago it was known that 20 percent local solar by 2025 was possible, as long as PECO did the work. This year as PECO rolled out its action plan for providing electricity for the next few years, EQAT joined others to protest at the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission that the plan does not measure up.
EQAT is also lifting up the need to support ratepayers in need, making sure that ratepayers don’t leave the pandemic with utility bill debt. In keeping with its belief that investment priorities should focus on caring for the earth and those in need, EQAT continues to push PECO to shift its investment from fossil to green.